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RE: [revelation-list] Re: Mark of the Beast?

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  • David L. Barr
    I find myself more or less amused by those who torture logic to apply Revelation to some supposed current event when the symbols and story fit so well into
    Message 1 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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      I find myself more or less amused by those who torture logic to apply
      Revelation to some supposed current event when the symbols and story fit so
      well into John's own life context. As to the Mark, there are several
      possibilities; the one I prefer is:

      ---
      The second beast works by miracles and deception to gain worship of the
      first beast. Those who refuse are killed (13:15). Those who acquiesce are
      marked, on their foreheads and hands, with the mark/name of the beast: 666.
      Whether we understand this as an individual or corporate reference
      (discussed in the section on characterization above: p. 107-108), the
      meaning is to be found in the ancient metaphorical use of the body's parts.
      The head was the seat of authority and volition and thus the center of the
      spirit. The mark on the head signifies spiritual devotion to the beast.
      The hand represents action, production, and commerce. The mark on the hand
      signifies economic support for the beast. [See the discussion in Pilch and
      Malina Biblical Social Values]
      To understand how everyone is tainted by these marks one needs to understand
      how life was lived in first-century Roman Asia Minor. Literally every
      activity would involve one in some token recognition of the emperor (and his
      divinity) and of the Gods. Education began with reading Homer's ancient
      tales of Gods and heroes. Medicine was practiced in the name of Asclepius,
      God of healing. Entertainment consisted of sporting events (both the bloody
      arena and the Olympic Games) dedicated to the Gods and of the theater
      dedicated to Dionysus. Each performance began with a sacrifice to Dionysus
      whose altar stood at the front of every theater. To ply a trade meant to
      belong to a guild, but trade guilds were devoted to a patron deity regarded
      as the founder and protector of the craft. Mutual assistance societies (the
      ancient form of insurance) would gather in the name of some God or Goddess.
      The very coins by which one bought and sold, and paid one's taxes, testified
      to these Gods and Goddesses. And these coins most often bore some image of
      the emperor and an inscription claiming him to be "son of the divine
      Julius." Even if one avoided the direct worship of these "beasts" one's
      hand might still be marked in the daily round of commerce.
      In this scene of the two beasts John paints an almost wholly pessimistic
      picture: who can fight against the beast (13:4). Those who have followed
      the story this far might suspect they know the answer, and that suspicion is
      confirmed in the next scene.
      --From *Tales of the End* by David L. Barr (Polebridge, 1998)127.

      The "marking" is of course the counterfeit of the "sealing" of the holy
      ones; odd that no one imagines that Christians were (or will be) tattooed or
      embedded with divine computer chips.

      David L. Barr
      Professor of Religion
      Wright State University
      Dayton OH

      937-775-2293
      937-775-2707 (FAX)
      http://www.wright.edu/~david.barr
    • Ed Garcia
      This explanation is very interesting and clever but it disregards the plain reading of the text. John plainly states that people will be unable to buy or sell
      Message 2 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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        This explanation is very interesting and clever but it disregards the plain
        reading of the text. John plainly states that people will be unable to buy
        or sell unless they receive the mark on the forehead or the right-hand. John
        talks about a mark on the hand not about carrying something around in the
        hand. Call me a literalist, but often times the plain meaning of a passage
        makes for the most reasonable interpretation. As for Christians being
        tattooed or embedded with divine computer chips....well Christians do not
        need the seal of the living God (spoken of in Rev. 7:2,3) in order to buy or
        sell.

        Another thing that amazes me is the number of books that emphasize the
        importance of The Roman empire in understanding the book of Revelation. Its
        importance is in many cases overblown.

        Ed Garcia
        Kansas

        -----Original Message-----
        From: David L. Barr [mailto:david.barr@...]
        Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 8:39 AM
        To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: [revelation-list] Re: Mark of the Beast?



        I find myself more or less amused by those who torture logic to apply
        Revelation to some supposed current event when the symbols and story fit so
        well into John's own life context. As to the Mark, there are several
        possibilities; the one I prefer is:

        ---
        The second beast works by miracles and deception to gain worship of the
        first beast. Those who refuse are killed (13:15). Those who acquiesce are
        marked, on their foreheads and hands, with the mark/name of the beast: 666.
        Whether we understand this as an individual or corporate reference
        (discussed in the section on characterization above: p. 107-108), the
        meaning is to be found in the ancient metaphorical use of the body's parts.
        The head was the seat of authority and volition and thus the center of the
        spirit. The mark on the head signifies spiritual devotion to the beast.
        The hand represents action, production, and commerce. The mark on the hand
        signifies economic support for the beast. [See the discussion in Pilch and
        Malina Biblical Social Values]
        To understand how everyone is tainted by these marks one needs to understand
        how life was lived in first-century Roman Asia Minor. Literally every
        activity would involve one in some token recognition of the emperor (and his
        divinity) and of the Gods. Education began with reading Homer's ancient
        tales of Gods and heroes. Medicine was practiced in the name of Asclepius,
        God of healing. Entertainment consisted of sporting events (both the bloody
        arena and the Olympic Games) dedicated to the Gods and of the theater
        dedicated to Dionysus. Each performance began with a sacrifice to Dionysus
        whose altar stood at the front of every theater. To ply a trade meant to
        belong to a guild, but trade guilds were devoted to a patron deity regarded
        as the founder and protector of the craft. Mutual assistance societies (the
        ancient form of insurance) would gather in the name of some God or Goddess.
        The very coins by which one bought and sold, and paid one's taxes, testified
        to these Gods and Goddesses. And these coins most often bore some image of
        the emperor and an inscription claiming him to be "son of the divine
        Julius." Even if one avoided the direct worship of these "beasts" one's
        hand might still be marked in the daily round of commerce.
        In this scene of the two beasts John paints an almost wholly pessimistic
        picture: who can fight against the beast (13:4). Those who have followed
        the story this far might suspect they know the answer, and that suspicion is
        confirmed in the next scene.
        --From *Tales of the End* by David L. Barr (Polebridge, 1998)127.

        The "marking" is of course the counterfeit of the "sealing" of the holy
        ones; odd that no one imagines that Christians were (or will be) tattooed or
        embedded with divine computer chips.

        David L. Barr
        Professor of Religion
        Wright State University
        Dayton OH

        937-775-2293
        937-775-2707 (FAX)
        http://www.wright.edu/~david.barr

        To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
        revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com



        Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      • Paul Anderson
        Thanks for your responses to my inquiry, Ed, and David and Kym. I do think the Roman Imperial culture was the historical backdrop for Revelation, and I
        Message 3 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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          Thanks for your responses to my inquiry, Ed, and David and Kym. I do
          think the Roman Imperial culture was the historical backdrop for
          Revelation, and I imagine that loyalty to the Empire would have been
          demonstrated in some outward fashion, suggesting compliance with Rome.
          This is why I'm wondering what sort of archaeological or historical
          evidence there might have been which clarifies the right hand and forehead
          references to displaying the mark of the beast. If someone had offered a
          sacrifice to Caesar, or declared Caesar as Lord, for instance, how would
          such loyalty demonstrations have carried over beyond the event?

          Thanks!

          Paul Anderson
        • Jon Paulien
          Paul, You may not want to overlook a possible Jewish connection to the Mark of the Beast concept. In Deut 6:4-8 the commandments of God are to be worn on the
          Message 4 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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            Paul,

            You may not want to overlook a possible Jewish connection to the Mark of the
            Beast concept. In Deut 6:4-8 the commandments of God are to be worn on the
            forehead and the hand. Since the commandments of God are mentioned in Rev
            12:17 and 14:12 (and possibly alluded to in Rev 13), the Mark of the Beast
            would highlight for John's audience the contrast between obedience to God on
            the one hand and obedience to the secular and religious authorities of the
            dominant culture on the other. If the "seal of God" concept is related to the
            commandments, the contrast is heightened even further.

            As Adela Collins has pointed out, the author of Rev is trying to move his
            readers away from their attraction to social compromise to an either/or
            commitment.

            Jon Paulien
            Andrews University

            Paul Anderson wrote:

            > Thanks for your responses to my inquiry, Ed, and David and Kym. I do
            > think the Roman Imperial culture was the historical backdrop for
            > Revelation, and I imagine that loyalty to the Empire would have been
            > demonstrated in some outward fashion, suggesting compliance with Rome.
            > This is why I'm wondering what sort of archaeological or historical
            > evidence there might have been which clarifies the right hand and forehead
            > references to displaying the mark of the beast. If someone had offered a
            > sacrifice to Caesar, or declared Caesar as Lord, for instance, how would
            > such loyalty demonstrations have carried over beyond the event?
            >
            > Thanks!
            >
            > Paul Anderson
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          • Paul Anderson
            ... Excellent point, Jon. Thanks! Paul
            Message 5 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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              revelation-list@yahoogroups.com writes:
              >Paul,
              >
              >You may not want to overlook a possible Jewish connection to the Mark of
              >the
              >Beast concept. In Deut 6:4-8 the commandments of God are to be worn on the
              >forehead and the hand. Since the commandments of God are mentioned in Rev
              >12:17 and 14:12 (and possibly alluded to in Rev 13), the Mark of the Beast
              >would highlight for John's audience the contrast between obedience to God
              >on
              >the one hand and obedience to the secular and religious authorities of the
              >dominant culture on the other. If the "seal of God" concept is related to
              >the
              >commandments, the contrast is heightened even further.
              >
              >As Adela Collins has pointed out, the author of Rev is trying to move his
              >readers away from their attraction to social compromise to an either/or
              >commitment.
              >
              >Jon Paulien
              >Andrews University

              Excellent point, Jon.

              Thanks!

              Paul
            • Ed Garcia
              Along the lines of Jon s comments, I have always found it fascinating to consider the mark of the beast in light of the mark of Cain in Genesis. Unless I am
              Message 6 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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                Along the lines of Jon's comments, I have always found it fascinating to
                consider the mark of the beast in light of the mark of Cain in Genesis.
                Unless I am mistaken, certain Jewish writers wondered if the mark of Cain
                could have been the letter tav/tau. The word itself (as I understand) means
                "mark" and which early on resembled an X or a cross. It is the ancestor of
                the Greek letter tau. I have not come to any conclusions but I do find it
                interesting.

                Ed Garcia
                Kansas

                -----Original Message-----
                From: Jon Paulien [mailto:jonp@...]
                Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 1:50 PM
                To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [revelation-list] Re: Mark of the Beast?


                Paul,

                You may not want to overlook a possible Jewish connection to the Mark of the
                Beast concept. In Deut 6:4-8 the commandments of God are to be worn on the
                forehead and the hand. Since the commandments of God are mentioned in Rev
                12:17 and 14:12 (and possibly alluded to in Rev 13), the Mark of the Beast
                would highlight for John's audience the contrast between obedience to God on
                the one hand and obedience to the secular and religious authorities of the
                dominant culture on the other. If the "seal of God" concept is related to
                the
                commandments, the contrast is heightened even further.

                As Adela Collins has pointed out, the author of Rev is trying to move his
                readers away from their attraction to social compromise to an either/or
                commitment.

                Jon Paulien
                Andrews University

                Paul Anderson wrote:

                > Thanks for your responses to my inquiry, Ed, and David and Kym. I do
                > think the Roman Imperial culture was the historical backdrop for
                > Revelation, and I imagine that loyalty to the Empire would have been
                > demonstrated in some outward fashion, suggesting compliance with Rome.
                > This is why I'm wondering what sort of archaeological or historical
                > evidence there might have been which clarifies the right hand and forehead
                > references to displaying the mark of the beast. If someone had offered a
                > sacrifice to Caesar, or declared Caesar as Lord, for instance, how would
                > such loyalty demonstrations have carried over beyond the event?
                >
                > Thanks!
                >
                > Paul Anderson
                >
                >
                > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                > revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >
                >
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/




                To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com



                Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              • David L. Barr
                This is not at all the way I imagine things, based on what I know of the imperial cult. For a really fine and detailed treatment of what cult activities would
                Message 7 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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                  This is not at all the way I imagine things, based on what I know of the
                  imperial cult. For a really fine and detailed treatment of what cult
                  activities would look like, see:

                  Steven J. Friesen, Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading
                  Revelation in the Ruins. Oxford: Oxford Press University, 2001.

                  Steve has collected all the available archaeological and epigraphical
                  data and offers a fresh and insightful interpretation of it.

                  David
                  David L. Barr
                  Professor of Religion
                  Wright State University
                  Dayton OH

                  937-775-2293
                  937-775-2707 (FAX)
                  http://www.wright.edu/~david.barr


                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Paul Anderson [mailto:panderso@...]
                  Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 1:58 PM
                  To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: RE: [revelation-list] Re: Mark of the Beast?


                  Thanks for your responses to my inquiry, Ed, and David and Kym. I do
                  think the Roman Imperial culture was the historical backdrop for
                  Revelation, and I imagine that loyalty to the Empire would have been
                  demonstrated in some outward fashion, suggesting compliance with Rome.
                  This is why I'm wondering what sort of archaeological or historical
                  evidence there might have been which clarifies the right hand and
                  forehead references to displaying the mark of the beast. If someone had
                  offered a sacrifice to Caesar, or declared Caesar as Lord, for instance,
                  how would such loyalty demonstrations have carried over beyond the
                  event?

                  Thanks!

                  Paul Anderson



                  To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com



                  Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                  http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                • kymhsm
                  Dear David, Thank you for your response. My response, in return, is a double one. Firstly, I felt somewhat chastened. As I was writing I had in mind the
                  Message 8 of 14 , May 29, 2002
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                    Dear David,

                    Thank you for your response. My response, in return, is a double
                    one. Firstly, I felt somewhat chastened. As I was writing I had in
                    mind the sealing of the Spirit of which the mark of the Beast is
                    obviously a counterfeit:
                    "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed
                    the servants of our God on their foreheads" (Rev 7:3)
                    But in my haste I did not include it. So thank you for your clear
                    and, I think, correct explanation of the mark of the Beast.

                    Secondly, however, I do not see myself as one of <<those who
                    torture logic to apply Revelation to some supposed current
                    event>>. Because I see the Revelation as (at least)
                    double-layered, intended for the Church in Nero's time and for
                    the Church which will ultimately face the end (as I think much if
                    not most of OT prophecy is double layered with the renewal of
                    Israel often referring to the Church), then I also think that there
                    are parts of it yet to be played out.

                    I have no interest in trying to interpret every current event, but we
                    are called to be watchful. It is important that we are aware of the
                    spirit of our age and, ineveitably, there will aso be some 'events'
                    that are also significant. I was guilty of drawing an association
                    between Sept 11 with Rev 18 but only in the sense that it serves
                    as a reminder for us to be ever vigil.

                    While I have expressed agreement with your understanding of
                    the 'mark' above, with Ed, I do suspect that eventually the 'mark'
                    will have a much more tangible and immediate impact on the
                    faithful. The 'seal' prohibited (and prohibits) the believers from
                    engaging in certain practices of the world because of their/our
                    identification with Christ. The 'mark' , however, appears to be an
                    offensive of the Beast to isolate the faithful in a way that I think we
                    are yet to encounter. I may be wrong but that is the way I see it.

                    Sincerely,

                    Kym Smith
                    Adelaide
                    South Australia
                    khs@...
                  • Ian Paul
                    ... some ... I was persuaded by Allan Kerkeslager s argument that it was an image of Apollo representing false religion. The symbolism works and it fits better
                    Message 9 of 14 , May 30, 2002
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                      >Any thoughts out there on the bow held by the 1st horseman? Chilton has
                      some
                      >interesting insights.

                      I was persuaded by Allan Kerkeslager's argument that it was an image of
                      Apollo representing false religion. The symbolism works and it fits better
                      with the other three horsemen as a sequence (in contrast to traditional
                      interpretations of it as a proleptic vision of Christ.)

                      Ian Paul
                      .......................
                      Revd Dr Ian Paul 32 Penn Hill Avenue, Poole, Dorset BH14 9LZ
                      01202 745963 fax 01202 385539
                      Also Managing Editor, Grove Books Ltd, Ridley Hall Road, Cambridge CB3 9HU
                      01223 464748 fax 01223 464849
                      http://www.grovebooks.co.uk
                    • Don K
                      It seems to me that a better suggestion is to be found in Psalms 45:3-5, where the avenging Jehovah fairer than the sons of men is called to Gird a sword on
                      Message 10 of 14 , May 30, 2002
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                        It seems to me that a better suggestion is to be found in Psalms 45:3-5,
                        where the avenging Jehovah "fairer than the sons of men" is called to Gird a
                        sword on your thigh O Mighty One With yo9ur glory and majesty And in your
                        majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness, and
                        Your right hand shall teach You awesome things Your arrows are sharp in the
                        heart fo the King's enemies."
                        In the verses that follow we find the famous passage cited in Hebrews 1:8f
                        concerning the enthronement of the Messiah, Jesus.
                        Furthermore, in the Psalm, we find so many of the elements and themes
                        prevalent in the Apocalypse:
                        A conquering rider, with the sword of Jehovah on his thigh. (cf. 19:15, the
                        sword coming out of the mouth of the rider)
                        The righteousness of the rider asserted and emphasized.
                        The rider with arrows (i.e. the bow) to use against the enemies of
                        righteousness.
                        The rider identified as the Mighty One, (El Shaddai, can someone confirm the
                        Hebrew on this?), and of course, in the Apocalypse, the rider in chapter 19
                        is "the pantokratoros," (cf. 1:7-8), and King of kings.
                        It is also distinctly possible that Lamentations 2:4 is echoed in the
                        Apocalypse: "Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow, with His right
                        hand like an adversary. He has slain all who were pleasing in His sight".
                        Since the Apocalypse is certainly about the judgment of the city "where the
                        Lord was slain" (11:8), it would be natural for a good "Jewish" author to
                        call the Lament to mind as he considered the impending catastrophe.
                        To me, these links are persuasive, and more congruent than an identification
                        with the Apollo myth.
                        Don K
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: "Ian Paul" <editor@...>
                        To: <revelation-list@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 3:24 AM
                        Subject: Re: [revelation-list] Web site has moved


                        >
                        >
                        > >Any thoughts out there on the bow held by the 1st horseman? Chilton has
                        > some
                        > >interesting insights.
                        >
                        > I was persuaded by Allan Kerkeslager's argument that it was an image of
                        > Apollo representing false religion. The symbolism works and it fits better
                        > with the other three horsemen as a sequence (in contrast to traditional
                        > interpretations of it as a proleptic vision of Christ.)
                        >
                        > Ian Paul
                        > .......................
                        > Revd Dr Ian Paul 32 Penn Hill Avenue, Poole, Dorset BH14 9LZ
                        > 01202 745963 fax 01202 385539
                        > Also Managing Editor, Grove Books Ltd, Ridley Hall Road, Cambridge CB3 9HU
                        > 01223 464748 fax 01223 464849
                        > http://www.grovebooks.co.uk
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                        > revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                        >
                        >
                        >
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